17 August 2019
Police fire tear gas at demonstrators after they refused to disperse following a midnight curfew in Ferguson, Missouri. Photo: AFP
Police fire tear gas at demonstrators after they refused to disperse following a midnight curfew in Ferguson, Missouri. Photo: AFP

Federal autopsy ordered for teen shot by police in Ferguson

United States Attorney General Eric Holder ordered a federal autopsy of a teenager shot dead by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, as he sought to assure the family and community there will be a thorough investigation into a death that has sparked days of racially charged protests, Reuters reported on Sunday.

Eighteen-year-old Michael Brown, who was black, was shot by white police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9. The local police department has come under strong criticism for both the death of an unarmed man and its handling of the aftermath, according to the wire agency.

Seven protesters were arrested early on Sunday after Missouri Governor Jay Nixon imposed an overnight curfew aimed at quelling protests and looting. Police used canisters of smoke and later teargas to disperse the crowd, a Missouri State Highway Patrol spokesman said.

Holder called for the federal autopsy, in addition to one being conducted by state medical examiners, “due to the extraordinary circumstances involved in this case and at the request of the Brown family”, a Justice Department spokesman was quoted as saying.

The early morning clash occurred when demonstrators remained in the streets after the curfew took effect at midnight. The seven people arrested had failed to disperse, police said.

A person was shot and critically wounded during the night. It was not clear why, and the shooter was still at large, police said. Patrol Captain Ron Johnson, entrusted by the governor with restoring order, said police were unable to identify the victim, who he said was not shot by police.

Johnson also said someone had shot at a passing police car but was not apprehended.

Meanwhile, Nixon criticized the Ferguson police department for its decision on Friday to release a video that allegedly showed Brown taking part in a convenience store robbery shortly before the shooting. Police have said the officer who shot Brown had no idea he was a robbery suspect.

“I think it had an incendiary effect,” Nixon told CBS’ Face the Nation. Police “clearly are attempting to besmirch a victim of a shooting”, he added.

Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson defended the release of the surveillance video, over the objections of the US Justice Department. Jackson said he was complying with the news media’s requests for information in the case.

The decision to release the video while not giving details of the shooting only fueled outrage, the report said.

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